Strawberry Jam Filled Blueberry Bread

Makes a perfect gift loaf for a new neighbor, a sick friend, a birthday, or even the Memorial Day cookout.

It is not yet the height of blueberry season, but we’re getting closer. If you watch the labels on your blueberries closely, you’ll notice during our winter months they first come from South America, then Central America, followed by our southern U.S. states, and on northward until we get to Canada come early fall — when we must wait a bit to begin the cycle all over again. I’ll eat this gorgeous fruit anytime of the year, but am especially berry in love when it’s time for the berries from the northern spots like Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, Michigan, or Canada. That’s because berries like cool nights and I think those cooler northern places grow top shelf fruit. When blueberries are especially plentiful and the tastiest, they’re also at their least expensive. That lets me know it’s time to buy a bunch and freeze enough to last until next summer. And while we’re not there yet, I had already bought more than my husband could eat at breakfast on his yogurt with my homemade granola. They were beginning to soften and were even thinking of getting those stinky little white rings of mold on their bottoms. Two cups of near-heaven superfood needed to be saved. So one cup is enough for a dozen muffins; two cups calls for a loaf of blueberry bread. In this case I had a little strawberry jam called my baking name out loud as well, so I thought I’d tuck that into the center of the loaf and call it Strawberry Jam Filled Blueberry Bread, which is (you’re right) a mouthful. But no other name seemed to fit and I’m stuck with it. Thank goodness, because the name says exactly what it is and if that’ll make you preheat the oven and stir this up, I’m good. I do think any jam would do — even blueberry — but I happened to have the tail end of a jar of Bonne Maman strawberry preserves, which served royally well. (TIP: I reuse their jars as storage containers for months or even years as they are glass, go through the dishwasher, and come with tight, long-lasting red and white picnic-checked lids.)

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Bratwurst-Lentil Soup

There’s no reason bratwurst should only be consumed grilled and on a sturdy bun with sauerkraut, spicy mustard, and onions that have, of course, been cooked in beer. In Germany, you just get a tiny piece of rye bread with which to hold your wurst, none of this big old fat sandwich business…and I digress. But sure, there are tons of other ways to use bratwurst and other link sausages, too. If you’re camping, for instance, and happen to have cooked bratwurst, you think nothing of slicing it into a pan of creamy scrambled eggs because you’re not throwing that out, ok, and there’s not enough for lunch. At home, you might mix a few leftover bites into a kitchen sink pasta salad for a fast dinner or throw together a big slow cooker full of brats and sauerkraut when friends are coming to play cards or even make a sheet pan dinner with brats and veggies. I’m partial to cooked bratwurst cut into chunks, stuck with toothpicks, and served up with a couple of different sauces (including spicy mustard!) for a meaty app. If it’s soup night (usually Thursday at our house), I could (and did) sauté a bunch of sliced bratwurst coins, add veggies, broth and lentils, et voilà, time to get out the bowls, pour the wine, and enjoy Bratwurst-Lentil Soup!

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KIDS BAKE MOTHER’S DAY: Apple-Pecan Coffeecake

What is it about making brunch at home that feels extravagant and comfy all at the same time? We’re all over planning changeable, healthy dinner meals complete with menus, shopping lists, and Sunday prep, but morning fare is relegated to nearly the same dish over and over again. Folks literally eat oatmeal for breakfast every single day. Or peanut butter toast. Yogurt and granola. Whatever. But take us to a swank brunch buffet at a fancy hotel and we’re putting soft poached eggs on smoked salmon dill biscuits and snarfing down raspberries in Grand Marnier with dark chocolate waffles as if there were no tomorrow. And then there’s the bottomless mimosa, isn’t there? When we finally decide to put on an at-home morning spread–for Mother’s Day, say?– that takes more thoughtful preparation than slamming down bread in the toaster and manage some actual day-before cooking or baking, it’s amazing how pampered-rich, how homey and cosseted we feel. Kinda like, “Well, isn’t this nice?!” And it is.

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Colorado Springs Omelet

Here in Colorado and perhaps even elsewhere in the U.S., there’s no diner breakfast more famous than the Denver Omelet — except maybe biscuits and gravy. You know how the Denver Omelet goes — lots of browned onions, green peppers, diced ham and some ooey-gooey orange cheese. It should be cooked firm and golden brown unlike the pale and buttery French omelets. And while I’m totally fond of a Denver omelet or a French omelet (mushrooms, please), for that matter, I have for quite a while enjoyed a different sort of southwestern egg breakfast here in my kitchen in Colorado Springs. My tender little elegant omelet is whisked with salsa rather than cream or water. It’s cooked slowly and gently in a covered skillet rather than at breakneck speed with constant whisking in an open pan à la française (like the French). Occasionally I turn the burner off toward the end, but leave the covered pan on it for another minute or two to slowly finish cooking my omelet. Good trick to have up your sleeve for any eggs (and some other things, too) you make to avoid an overcooked fry-up.

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Blueberry Scones

When Easter is on its hippity-hoppity way, I often research and make some scrumptious Easter bread if only because there are so very many and they’re all so individually addictive. Once or twice, I’ve looked for a Scots version (as some of my folk come from Scotland), only to be disappointed because there really isn’t a Scots Easter bread unless you include Hot Cross Buns, which I guess you could in a pinch. (I think Hot Cross Buns are more Good Friday-ish. By the way, I made Nigella’s scrumptious version this year with a few easy twists I’ll share next Lent.) Last Sunday morning, I woke feeling a little sorry for myself –for both me the baker and me the Scot. Until I realized just WHY the Scots have no Easter bread. Who needs Easter bread when you’ve got God’s perfect bread — scones — hither, thither, and yon? (FUN FACT: Most folks in Scotland pronounce the word scone to rhyme with our pronunciation of the word done, by the way. So that’s skuhn to you and me!)

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Boiled Eggs on English Muffins with Asparagus and Cheese Sauce

This is a copy of a blog post (April, 2012) from my now finished blog, dinnerplace.blogspot.com. Such a fun little Easter or post-Easter breakfast made for many years in my kitchen, I thought it deserved its own spot here on More Time. I've updated only the recipe to make it printable.

One of my favorite spring breakfasts is so terribly simple, that it appears I’ve never blogged it.  I see the photos on my Pinterest board and on fb, but when I checked the blogs–no eggs on muffins!  So here it is:  a meal perfect for Easter when you have lots of boiled eggs to use up, but also perfect any other time or for any meal, come to think of it.   If you have a plethora of eggs, as does my friend Cathy (we’re trading my granola for her backyard eggs this week), this is a fine use for them.  My own kids had this every Easter for years.  Well, I served it anyway.  Whether or not they ate it is beside the point!

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FRIDAY FISH: Cheesy Crab Spread

Both my mother-in-law, Lorna Morgan, and my good friends Sue Hall and Audie Dunham are known to occasionally have popcorn and wine for dinner. After all, why not? Popcorn is healthy and full of fiber; wine is made from fruit, isn’t it? (Wink, wink.) There’s no reason we can’t swap in snacks or appetizers for meals once in a while, but if you’re really hesitant, I’ll write you a note. The last Friday Fish of the season, Cheesy Crab Spread, is one of those dishes typically served before a meal (and it is an easy starter), but that also totally works instead of a meal —particularly if you serve it with some raw veggies along with some whole grain chips or crackers. Great on a day when there’s no time to cook or on a hot day when even the stove refuses to work. It mostly whirrs together in the food processor in just a minute or two (use an electric mixer or a wooden spoon if you like) and before you’ve poured your wine, dinner is ready to go. It’s also perfect to take to an Easter potluck or the first picnic of the year because it’s made ahead and travels well. Is it just me or is it always hard to think of an appetizer? Keep this one in your back pocket and you’ll know just where to look when you need one.

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FRIDAY FISH: Pan-Seared Halibut with Tomato-Sweet Pepper Salsa

Shown here with Red Onion-Oregano Potatoes and Cheesy Green beans.

For Hot Cross Buns and Easter brunch ideas, scroll down to bottom under LIFE GOES ON.

No matter what kind of fish or seafood you’re cooking, there are two basic secrets to its success. #1 Don’t overcook it. #2 You need a great sauce. I mean, think about it. Even everyday sorts of fish or seafood like fried shrimp or fish and chips come with a sauce you just have to have: cocktail sauce for the shrimp and tartar sauce for the fish. Right? This is also true of fish cooked by chefs in upscale restaurants, though the sauces may (or may not) be a tish more sophisticated. Sometimes butter and/or lemon are all that’s called for, as in Sole Meunière, which is not much more than thin and floured sole fillets cooked in–yes– butter and lemon, then sprinkled with, what else? Parsley. Simple is as simple does. And the dish has been top drawer famous forever! No matter the fish, it is often the sauce that counts.

That’s especially true in my quick Friday Fish for this week, Pan-Seared Halibut with Tomato-Sweet Pepper Salsa. Everyone knows pico de gallo and other sorts of Mexican salsas often made with cilantro and jalapeños, but a fresh tomato salsa (salsa only means “sauce”) without those two ingredients and with sweet peppers, tiny ripe tomatoes, parsley, green onions, and lemon, orange, or lime is something different. That difference is smile-worthy because instead of being overwhelmed by large-scale flavors, this mild fillet is enhanced and freshly seasoned by what is almost a baby salad garnish — which takes the dish over the top to my tastebuds.

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FRIDAY FISH: Tuna-Asparagus Pasta Chowder

You adore clam chowder but your cupboard is full of tuna. It’s ok; I’ve got it covered. You can still have chowder–with tuna!! Does it work? Yes, yes; it totally does. And is it yummy? It definitely is. I thought about making chowder with canned tuna for a long time before I did it, but now that I have, it’s in my playbook for good. Tuna Chowder is easy, inexpensive, and even qualifies for what we’d call, “Cheap Eats.” This version adds some tiny ditalini pasta for fun and texture, but if you don’t like it, just add extra potatoes and you’ll be fine. Last time I cooked shrimp, I saved the shells in my freezer and was able to make a fast shrimp stock to bolster the flavor of the chowder. (Buying fish stock is above my pay grade at $3 a 15-ounce can. You can make it, though.) Vegetable broth is ok, too, and is better when spiked with a little clam juice, which is sold right near tuna at the store. Even chicken broth works in a pinch.

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FRIDAY FISH: Chili Fish Nuggets with Two Sauces (Air Fryer or Oven)

…a sweet whisper of chili in both the breading and the sauces

DONATE TO WORLD CENTRAL KITCHEN HERE.

Looking for St. Patrick’s Day Ideas? Just click on “St. Patrick’s Day” in the categories section at right to find my favorites including Salmon on Caraway CabbageIrish Soda Bread with Potato SoupSalmon on ColcannonColcannon SoupTraditional Kerry Apple Cake, and more.

Palos Hills, courtesy Chicago Trib

If you’ve followed the blog for long (THANKS!), you’ll know that I’m a midwest girl. Born to southern parents who moved north for work during the depression and settled in Chicago, I grew up with nearly all of the basic northern Illinois culture. That meant lakes or even the Kankakee River on the weekend with the whole fam, a Polish for a special lunch out whenever I could and Italian Beef or thin crust pizza (yes, thin) the rest of the time, tobogganing at Palos Hills in the winter and riding the rollercoasters at Riverview in the summer, visiting Marshall Field’s at Christmas, shopping German bakeries for coffeecake and bread, vacationing in Wisconsin and Minnesota (more lakes/more beer), and so on.

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